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brought me to my sixteenth year; a little before
"Thus with me began love and poetry; which at times have been my only, and till within the last twelve months, have been my highest enjoyment. My father struggled on till he reached the
freedom in his lease, when he entered on a larger farm, about ten miles further in the country. The nature of the bargain he made was such as to throw a little ready money into his hands at the commencement of his lease; otherwise the affair would have been impracticable. For four years we lived comfortably here; but a difference commencing betvreen him and his landlord as to terms, after three years tossing and whirling in the vortex of litigation, my father was just saved from the horrors of a jail by a consumption, which, after two years' promises, kindly stepped in, and carried him away, to where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.'
“It is during the time that we lived on this farm that my little story is most eventful. I was, at the beginning of this period, perhaps, the most ungainly, awkward hoy in the parish---no solitaire was less acquainted with the ways of the world. What I knew of ancient story was gathered from Salmon's and Guthrie's geographical grammars; and the ideas I had formed of modern manners, of literature, and criticism, I got from the Spectator. These, with Pope's Works, some plays of Shakspeare, Tell and Dickson on Agriculture, The Pantheon, Locke's Essay on the Human Understanding, Stackhouse's History of the Bible, Justice's British Gardener's Directory, Bayle's Lectures, Allan Ramsay's Works, Taylor's Scripture Doctrine of Original Sin, A seleci Collection of English songs, and Hervey's Meditations, had formed the whole of my reading. The collection of songs was my vade mecum. over them, driving my cart, or walking to labos,
song by song, verse by verse; carefully noting the true tender, or sublime, from affectation and fustian. I am convinced I owe to this practice much of my critic-craft, such as it is.
"In my seventeenth year, to give my manners a brush, I went to a country dancing-school.-My father had an unaccountable antipathy against these meetings; and my going was, what to this moment I repent, in opposition to his wishes. My father, as I said before, was subject to strong passions ; from that instance of disobedience in me he took a sort of dislike to me, which I believe was one cause of the dissipation which marked my succeeding years.—1 say dissipation, comparatively with the strictness, and sobriety, and regularity of Presbyterian country life; for though the Will o' Wisp meteors of thoughtless whim were almost the sole lights of my path, yet early ingrained piety and virtue kept me for several years afterwards within the line of innocence. The great misfortune of my life was to want an aim. I had felt early some stirrings of ambition, but they were the blind gropings of Homer's Cyclops round the walls of his cave. I saw my father's situation entailed upon me perpetual labor. The only two openings by which I could enter the temple of Fortune, was the gate of niggardly economy, or the path of little chic ning bargain-making. The first is so contracted an aperture, I never could squeeze myself into it:-the last I always hated there was contamination in the very entrance! Thus abandoned of aim or view in life, with a strong appetite for sociability, as well from native hilarity, as from a pride of observation and remark; a constitutional melancholy, or hypochondriasm, that made me fly to solitude; add to these incentives to social life, my reputation for bookish knowledge, a certain wil? logical talent, and a strength of thought somet
like the rudiments of good sense; and it will not seem surprising that I was generally a welcome guest where I visited, or any great wonder that, al. ways where two or three met together there was I among them.
“But far beyond all other impulses of my heart was un penchant a l'adorable moitie de genre humain. My heart was completely tinder, and was eternally lighted up by some goddess or other; and as in every other warfare in this world my fortune was various; sometimes I was received with favor, and sometimes I was mortified with a repulse. At the plough, scythe, or reap-hook, I feared no com petitor, and thus I set absolute want at defiance; and as I never cared farther for my labors than while I was in actual exercise, I spent the evenings in the way after my own heart. A country lad seldom carries on alove adventure without an assisting confidant. I possessed a curiosity, zeal, and intrepid dexterity, that recommended me as a proper second on these accasions; and I dare say, I felt as much pleasure in being in the secret of half the loves of the parish of Tarbolton, as ever did statesmen in knowing the intrigues of half the courts of Europe. The very goose-feather in my hand seems to know instinctively the well-worn path of my imagination, the favorite theme of my song; and is with difficulty restrained from giving you a couple of paragraphs on the love adventures of my compeers, the humble inmates of the form-house and cottage; but the grave sons of science, ambition, or avarice, baptise these things by the name of Follies. To the song and daughters of labor and poverty, they are matters of the most serious nature; to them the ardent hope, the stolen interview, the tender farewell, are the greatest and most delicious parts of their enjoy.
Another circumstance in my life, which made some alteration in my mind and manners, was, that I spent my nineteenth summer on a smuggling coast, a good distance from home, at a noted school, to learn mensuration, surveying, dialling, &c. in which I made a pretty good progress. But I made a greater progress in the knowledge of mankind. The contraband trade was at that time very successful, and it sometimes happened to me to fall in with those who carried it on. Scenes of swaggering riot and roaring dissipation were till this time new to me; but I was no enemy to social life. Here, though I learnt to fill my glass, and to mix without fear in a drunken squabble, yet I went on with a high hand with my geometry till the sun entered Virgo, a month which is always a carnival in my bosom, when a charming filette, who lived next door to the school, overset my trigonometry, and set me off at a tangent from the sphere of my studies. I however, struggled on with my sines and co-sines for a few days more; but, stepping into the garden one charming noon to take the sun's altitude, there I met my angel;
Like Proserpine gathering flowers,
Herself a fairer flowerIt was in vain to think of doing any more good at school. The remaining week I staid, I did nothing but craze the faculties of my soul about her, or steal out to meet her; and the two last nights of my stay in the country, had sleep been a mortal sin, the image of this modest and innocent girl had kept me guiltless.
“I returned home very considerably improved. My reading was enlarged with the very importar addition of Thomson's and Shenstone's worl: